What to Declutter First when you don’t know Where to Start

Anyone else in declutter mode?  Or do you want to be in declutter mode but want to know what to declutter first when you don’t know where to start?

what to declutter first


Every year after Christmas I like to go through the house and declutter.  Let’s be honest – Christmas is often a season of excess.  While we do the holidays very simply, there is still SOME excess.

So when January comes I am ready to go through the house and get rid of things.  Somehow we seem to collect a lot of stuff even though we aren’t huge shoppers.  We are very fortunate to be the recipients of second-hand treasures much of the time but eventually that leads to too much stuff if we don’t get rid of the old things that need to go.

I’ve talked about this in an earlier post, but there was a time it never occurred to me to declutter.  We lived the first 9 years of marriage never getting rid of stuff.  I wasn’t overly attached to our things – it just NEVER occurred to me that it was something I should be doing from time to time.

Until, of course, one day I looked around and felt overwhelmed by the amount of things we had.  And that’s when I began decluttering.

now, I’ve had ups and downs when it comes to decluttering.  There are times I am on top of it, and there are times it gets out of control.  It often depends how busy our life is.  When we first moved out to our country house (where we live now) and had renos to do along with building fencing and caring for animals, I found it difficult to find time to declutter again.  However, we pared back on what we were doing on our country property and I was able to once again make time to declutter.

And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.

If you are new to decluttering you may feel overwhelmed and just not know where to start.  So today we are going to tackle that issue.


Let’s start by talking about where NOT to start.  I’m going to suggest the first thing you declutter is not your children’s toys or room.

I mean, let’s be honest with ourselves.  It’s a lot easier to get rid of someone ELSE’S stuff than our own.  But if we haven’t decluttered chances are our kids will have a difficult time too.  They need to see the example you set by decluttering your own stuff before they are able to be okay with their own toys being decluttered.

This also goes for decluttering your spouse’s items.  This is a constant battle among couples when one wants to get rid of things and the other doesn’t.  It can create a war zone.  When I started decluttering items my husband wasn’t ready to let go of things.  I knew if I just started tossing his things it would cause conflict, and so I didn’t do it.  While we still have disagreements from time to time on whether to keep or get rid of stuff, I can tell you he came around in his own time and has surprised me most recently about wanting to declutter a bunch of stuff I hadn’t even thought of!

Yes, decluttering can calm the chaos, and give you a sense of peace, but peace in your marriage is WAY more important.  Fighting with your spouse about decluttering will only upset you both.

Another thing you don’t want to start decluttering is family heirlooms or things that are super, super important to you.  You want to make the decluttering process as easy as possible, and if you start with stuff you can’t imagine ever parting with, you’ll never get anywhere.

Eventually you will most likely go through that stuff, but hopefully you will have gone through the decluttering process with many other things by that time so that when you declutter the harder stuff you’ll be able to be realistic about whether you should to keep it or not.


So, now that we talked about where NOT to start, let’s talk about some good places to begin.

One of the easiest places I find to start decluttering is clothes.  Most of us have more than we need.  We might be hanging on to some of our favorite clothes that haven’t fit in years because we keep saying we will one day fit back into it again.

Or you may have purchased something you really liked at the time but you never seem to wear it because it just doesn’t go with anything.  The thought of getting rid of it after you spent good money on it can stop you from getting rid of it.

Whatever the case, there’s a good chance you have some clothes to get rid of.

One idea of knowing what to get rid of is to hang all your clothes in the closet with the hangers facing one way.  Once you wear the item (and wash it) place it back on the hanger but face the hanger the opposite way.  At the end of the year any hanger that is still facing the original way gets tossed out because clearly you don’t wear it if you’ve went a whole year without taking it off the hanger.

Another good thing to start decluttering?  A small area or room in your house, such as a closet or the bathroom.  If you start somewhere that is small you won’t feel overwhelmed.  You will feel like you’ve accomplished something once that area or room is decluttered.  That will give you motivation to keep the momentum going and continue to declutter.


Decluttering can feel overwhelming but take a deep breath and take it one step at a time.  If all you have is an hour to give a day to declutter, than do that.  Try to not look at the mess as a whole, but just as one spot at a time to clean.  If you do that every day consistently before you know it the mess will have decreased greatly and you will have gotten rid of a lot of stuff you don’t need.



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